Nine-hole golf courses have a long history in the United States, as many of the earliest layouts in the country in the late 1800s were spartan, 9-hole facilities.
Their future is critical to golf, particularly in large urban areas. As land and resources continue to grow more expensive as more residents come, green space and opportunities for recreation near people's homes and workplaces in densely built-out areas will become more coveted. In many of the country's largest metro areas, 9-hole courses serve as popular havens for both residents and visitors.
Some nine-hole golf courses might be basic or "relief" in nature. Many others have a lot to offer in their own right, from history to scenery to excellent shot values. I live near a historic, 9-hole course and whenever I drive by, I see golfers of all ages and abilities playing. Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic, play has been booming on this walking-only layout on a small, 45-acre parcel.
As new golfers take to the sport, whether it's for social distancing or otherwise, many 9-hole courses are enjoying a new moment of popularity. We've rounded up a collection of some notable 9-holers located in some of the United States' largest metro areas (for this list, we've avoided par-3 courses, and are instead focusing on executive and full-length nines). They provide value and a welcoming environment for all, while their layouts are interesting enough for avid golfers.
Do you play a nine-hole course at home? Let us know in the comments below!
Atlanta: Bobby Jones Golf Course
Atlanta features one of the more ambitious and revolutionary modern nine-hole projects in the last decade. Bobby Jones was transformed from a cramped 18-hole layout into a reversible 9-hole course and learning center. The main nine's two routings, the Magnolia and Azalea routings, were laid out by late architect Bob Cupp, and feature multiple hole locations and large, double greens, inspired by St. Andrews (which once played in reverse itself).
"I love the changes at Bobby Jones. I played the Azalea for the second time, this time with my 12 year-old son. The variety of tee boxes gave us so many options for how to play each hole. The layout is creative and interesting, with a short par 4 and 5 giving you a chance to score. " - David3175379 | Browse Tee Times on GolfNowGolf Advisor Round Trip: Atlanta's Bobby Jones Golf Course
Indianapolis: Buffer Park Golf Course
Indianapolis is a sneaky-good golf town with a lot of affordable layouts to play. Nine-hole Buffer Park Golf Course sits in between downtown Indy and the airport and sports a quiet layout with a championship-level design that plays up to 3,433 yards and a par 36.
"It is the best 9 hole course I have ever played, and rumor has it to be one of the best 9 hole courses in the country. The layout is a perfect mix of challenging and good opportunities to make birdie. I liked all 9 of the holes, but the sixth hole is a gorgeous par 3." - HoosierHacker89
New York City Metro: Skyway Golf Course at Lincoln Park West
Just about 30 minutes from the Empire State Building, Skyway Golf Course at Lincoln Park West in Jersey City is a visually sensational 9-holer in an urban setting along the Hackensack River with bridges and New York City skyline serving as the backdrop. This par-36 plays just over 3,200 yards from the back tees.
"Awesome! Great views of the city, nice layout and very well kept ... Good caliber of golfers play here, no one hits on top of you or rushes you, I played as a single so I've had good experiences randomly teaming up with people." - FAN9000
Los Angeles: Roosevelt Golf Course
The Los Angeles area is full of executive and short courses (Terranea is a famous, oceanfront par-3 course). But the L.A. muni system has a little gem that is a par-33 just under 2,500 yards in the scenic 9-hole Roosevelt Golf Course.
"I really liked this course. It’s 9 holes but it has 6 par 4s. Not very long but the views of downtown and the rest of the city make it worth while. We could see all the way to Long Beach. A deer ran around the rough of hole 3 and 4. Breath taking views combined with a good solid walk and throw in some golf. I loved it, but maybe it was because I played real well(for me). I was 3 over for the day(birdie and 4 pars). Best 20$ for golf you could spend IMO." - jfoster37 | Browse tee times on GolfNow
Orlando: Winter Park Golf Course
Orlando is a well-known resort golf hotbed but those locals in the know all visit Winter Park, a historic 9-hole course closer to downtown Orlando that runs along railroad tracks within a historic neighborhood. A recent renovation made this par-35 tucked in the historic neighborhood loads of fun with tumbling greens and fairways. Several par 4s are short enough to be reachable from the tee if you're bold, but there are also two par 5s where the long-ball is required.
Chicago: Downer's Grove
Chicagoland is full of golf courses both old and new, small and large. Downer's Grove is a historic course that was the original site of Chicago Golf Club, established in 1892. When the club decided to move to a bigger site, Downer's Grove operated under several different owners until the Downers Grove Parks District purchased the club in the 1960s. Today it's a pleasant par-36 at 3,280 yards.
"Given its old origins, some holes feel like they belong to an earlier era, like the 2 back-to-back short par 4s with sharp right-to-left doglegs, but one you've figured them out, you look forward to playing them the next time." - TopcatGolf
If you happen to be right downtown, there is a small 9-hole municipal golf course right beside Lake Michigan: Sydney R. Marovitz, which is operated by the Chicago Parks District dates back to 1932. | Browse tee times on GolfNow
Dallas-Fort Worth: Stewart Peninsula
Located at The Colony in the DFW Metroplex, Stewart Peninsula occupies a scenic peninsula for nine holes along Lewisville Lake. There are nine holes but 18 tees and hole locations for repeat play.
"It has 9 holes with two different flags, red and gold, along with 3 different tee boxes for each hole location. Met the owner, very nice fellow that is trying real hard to continue to improve this place. I do recommend you play this course. Beautiful views of Lake Lewisville." - NextRound7 Min Read
San Francisco Bay Area: Gleneagles Golf Course at McLaren Park
With a beautiful location on the peninsula and more than 50 years of history, Gleneagles has built a cult following of Bay Area locals who play the course for its scenery and challenging layout along a hillside. Some recent reviews have noted improving conditions.
"With the Cypress trees felt like a poor man’s Harding Park. Greens are firm and true. Uneven lies and tight tee shots make it a challenge, and a great test for shot shaping. Will be back when I want to play a quick nine." - eddiec111 | Browse Tee Times on GolfNow
Phoenix-Scottsdale: Viewpoint Executive 9
The Valley of the Sun is full of executive layouts and short courses, many of which are 18 holes. In Mesa, Viewpoint golf Resort is a lesser-known property to the global audience but it has a fun and highly-rated 9-hole executive course in addition to the 18-hole course. This par 33 features just over 2,100 yards and includes a par 5.
"Course is perfect for a quick round but challenging enough to have fun. Course staff are friendly and courteous. Great greens. Go play you will have a great round." - RATAST
San Diego: Balboa Park Nine-hole Course
San Diego is another city with loads of short-course options from the par-3 La Loma near the airport to Tecolote Canyon and lighted Mission Bay. Historic Balboa Park has an 18-hole main course, plus a 9-hole executive course that plays 2,100 yards, great for evening rounds and beginners.
"Balboa is a tremendous value for a public course, especially if you're a San Diego resident. Greens were in fantastic condition when we played and had very difficult pin positions. Awesome location in the city. Make sure you eat at Tobey's either before or after the round. One of the best views in all of San Diego." - alexschulte33
Cleveland-Akron: Raymond C. Firestone Golf Course
The Firestone brand is synonymous with golf in northern Ohio. While Firestone Country Club, the longtime WGC host-turned-PGA Tour Champions host is private, Raymond C. Firestone is a public and hilly 9-hole course adjacent to the country club that serves up a 3,000-yard, par-35 layout.
"Conditions are always great. Greens fast and true. Very open course, great for those with higher handicaps as not a lot of trouble you can get into. Love playing here and will be back again and again." - Suppman0
Boston: Fresh Pond Golf Course
The northeast is full of rural 9-holers, but among the most convenient for city dwellers is municipal Fresh Pond Golf Course, just outside Boston in Cambridge. the course originally dates back to 1930 but was updated by architect Geoffrey Cornish, a popular name in this region, in the 1960s.
"Best 9 Hole Course Around!" wrote aerohman in a 2017 review. "The layout is challenging enough to keep you coming back, and the condition has only been getting better. Compared to other moderately-priced courses, the greens at the Pond are in stellar shape, and they maintain the whole course very well."